Saturday, January 13, 2018

Stop The Torrents! Copyright Infringement Is Not Protected Speech.

Apparently, there are people who think that, if they pay for a VPN subscription, they are a protected class, and have a Constitutional right to remain anonymous and not to be publicly shamed in the same way as anyone else who is found guilty of copyright infringement.

There are even some judges who appear to agree that privilege and protection can be purchased by anyone.

"Anonymous Internet Users Beware," is the legal advice of  bloggers Siena Sophia Magdalena Anstis  and  J. Alexander Lawrence  writing for  Morrison & Foerster LLP . "New Presumption In Favor Of Unmasking The Losing Anonymous Defendant."

Read more:

This legal blog has an interesting discussion of an argument presented by an anonymous blogger who was successfully sued for posting a hyperlink to a downloadable copy of an ebook without the consent of the author and copyright owner of that ebook.

The same lawsuit with a slightly different perspective is also covered by Brian J. Willett for Reed Smith LLP  in "Sixth Circuit Suggests Liability for Copyright Infringement May Justify Reduced First Amendment Protection for Anonymous Speech, But Recommends......"

There's a bit of a spoiler in quoting the entire title.

Read it here:

For our European readers, please notice that Lexology offers sidebar links to different treatments of similar cases in the United Kingdom, in Canada, and in the Netherlands. (Where guilty copyright infringers wish to remain anonymous in defeat.)

In the USA case, the would-be anonymous blogger claimed that being anonymous is an aspect of Free Speech, and as such is protected by the First Amendment.  (How ironic that one pays a VPN as little as $40 per annum for this aspect of "free speech".)

The good news for copyright enthusiasts is that a judge said copyright infringement is not protected speech. The copyright infringer is publishing and distributing someone else's copyright-protected written expressions of ideas.

If the copyright infringer's "speech" is not protected by the First Amendment, it follows tha the guilty copyright infringer's identity should not be protected by the court.

As for VPNs, most online banking and brokerage houses won't allow clients to use them.  Their use tends to trigger annoying captchas...  even if one is attempting to donate to a charity.  One wonders if they are even much good for foiling those who would target advertising.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry

PS. Disclaimer.  The reference to "torrents" in the title was purely artistic. I went from a vulgar, "No SHHH!" to a snarky "Wow!" to "Stop The Presses!" to ... the current form. Apologies for any disappointment.

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